Agencies never know what is coming around the bend. Whether it is new processes, mandates or technologies, the way agencies work can change instantly.
Take COVID-19. Before the pandemic, agencies often trained their workforces in-person to ensure their employees had the necessary skills for mission success. Now, social distancing has pushed agencies to embrace more remote work than before. How do agencies close the gap between the missions they have and the skills their talent have to accomplish them?
On Wednesday, three government thought leaders predicted a revolution might be coming to agencies’ skillsets. Speaking during GovLoop’s latest online training, the trio explained how reskilling, upskilling and new-skilling can help agencies either on-site or remotely.
Michal McDonald, Director of Education and Development at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and Jamie Crews, Senior Manager, Organizational Development for Orange County, California, represented the public sector.
Steve Dobberowsky, Senior Principal for Talent Management and Thought Leadership at Cornerstone, OnDemand, Inc., represented the private sector. Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc. provides cloud-based people development software.
Here are three ways your agency can refine its workforce using groundbreaking reskilling, upskilling and new-skilling:
1. Know the lingo
According to Dobberowsky, agencies can close their skills gaps using four techniques: hiring, reskilling, upskilling and new-skilling. Upskilling improves existing skills, while reskilling teaches new abilities. New-skilling upskills and reskills using external data and partnerships. For example, agencies can leverage industry research from the private sector to guide their new-skilling efforts.
“We’re focused on the bottom result of changing behavior,” he said. “We want to do something better, faster, new.”
2. Curate content
Crews said Orange County tries to meet employees’ needs with skills training relevant to their current needs. For example, Orange county addressed COVID-19 by providing more information about remote work, wellness and transition management.
“People have an appetite to learn,” she said. “The biggest divide is making it accessible to them. If you make it accessible, they will come.”
3. Offer on-demand resources
According to McDonald, MassDOT has discovered on-demand skills education can provide the agency’s leaders with more scheduling flexibility.
“If it is an all-day training, it is a big impact on our scheduling demands,” he said. “People can take it in smaller chunks that are more digestible for them. It is a much easier thing for a manager to schedule around.”
McDonald added MassDOT’s statewide scope has made employees eager for more remote work and training. In the past, MassDOT had to gather employees across Massachusetts for each educational opportunity.
“You’re going to have a constant state where your team may not all be physically together again,” he said. “We’re still looking at the skill of managing a team that isn’t anywhere.”
The last word
Whether agencies embrace reskilling, upskilling, new-skilling or all the above, Dobberowsky said agencies’ strategies must ultimately stem from their goals.
“How are managers talking about developmental needs in light of what is going on?” he asked. “We know that skills are the foundation for a lot of what we do.”
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